Hospital group fears further loss of health care workers due to overseas jobs

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2021 05:27 PM


MANILA— The government should ensure that the country's health workers get proper compensation and benefits to prevent further decline in the workforce as they seek opportunities abroad.

A total of 83,000 jobs in the human health and social work activities sector were lost between July and August, based on the recent Labor Force Survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

But it could get worse, said Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines president Dr. Jose Rene De Grano in a virtual briefing.

"Ang malaking porsyento ngayon na kinakatakot namin ang talagang naga-apply para magkaroon ng jobs abroad, at malaking porsyento ito," De Grano said. 

(Our fear is that there's a big percentage applying for jobs abroad.)

"Dadating siguro ang time in another, siguro dalawa o tatlong buwan, talagang halos mauubusan tayo ng health care workers, especially ang ating mga nurses," he added. 

(There might come a time, 2 or 3 months, we will run out of health care workers especially our nurses)

De Grano said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) should also rethink its active endorsements of available jobs overseas, especially when the salary is twice or three times higher compared to local rates. 

"Sana magawan ng paraan ng ating gobyerno ito kung ano talaga ang magandang solusyon nila dyan, dahil ngayon, ang nangyayari ay ang ating DOLE pa ang nage-encourage sa ating mga nurses na lumabas at magtrabaho abroad," he added.

(The government should address that because now, DOLE encourages our nurses to work abroad.)

Local hospitals won't be able to compete with overseas rates, he said.

On top of that, education reforms, delays in licensure exams as well as the drop in fresh graduates in nursing have also contributed to the decline, the group said.

Nurses have also been lamenting the inaction on their appeal for better pay, causing greater attrition in the sector, Filipino Nurses United president Maristela Abenojar told ABS-CBN News.

"Many nurses recently resigned from their jobs due to extreme frustration because the government failed to address their long-overdue appeal to increase their salaries and provide timely benefits and compensation at this time of the pandemic," Abenojar said.

Nurses were given their special risk allowance, but many said it was not enough. 

Health workers are supposedly entitled to a P5,000 special risk allowance. However, the P5,000 is still divided by 22 days and is dependent on the hours of work rendered, another health worker group said.

Abenojar also said nurses were overworked, with some of them caring for 15 patients when the standard nurse-to-patient ratio is supposed to be 1:4.

When in the intensive care unit, the ratio should be 1 nurse to 1 patient, but there have been reports of 1 nurse taking care of 10 COVID-19 ICU patients, she said.

The total number of jobs in that sector as of August is 574,000, the lowest so far this year, the PSA said. 

The drop in health worker employment occurred during the lockdown enforced in August to help hospitals reinforce their capacity to take care of COVID-19 patients, data showed. 

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